This year’s Ottawa Bluesfest was a big week for the hip-hop market. In it’s twentieth time around, the festival, which prides itself for showcasing one of the most diverse bills in the industry, is bigger than ever.
The two week bill included contemporary and the old-school — bridging personalities of hip-hop from the beginning of the 21st century to currently, including Cypress Hill, Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator, Action Bronson, Snoop Dogg (AKA Snoop Lion), Danny Brown and RL Grime.
The festival’s camp even has its finger on the pulse of the emerging hip-hop scene in Ottawa, featuring local acts such as Atheron and DJ Acro.
Day one of the festival kicked off with a performance by none other than the unique and controversial American rapper Danny Brown. The Detroit-based alternative hip-hop artist with the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude opened the night on the Claridge Stage in front of a predominantly young crowd gathered for a chance to see Fool’s Gold’s own. True to his originality and unique style, Brown, who often takes to Twitter to express his views, hit the stage rocking green hair and dressed in a leather jacket and a Guns ‘N’ Roses t-shirt. Despite being alone with his DJ, the lively Brown brought lots of energy to the stage and made sure the Ottawa crowd was just as “turned up” as he was. His setlist included the tracks Smokin’ and Drinkin‘, Express Yourself, the Purity Ring-assisted 25 Bucks, and the popular single Dip that he delivered as the last track.
Henry “RL Grime” Steinway was the talk of the Black Sheep stage Thursday night for the second time in two years. The Los Angeles-based hip-hop and trap disc jockey didn’t even stop for a breath, playing track after track until the top of his set. Like last year’s set, fans were out in the hundreds and grew to over a thousand to see Steinway play tracks of his 2012 debut EP titled Grapes. Fans familiar with his electronic music collective WeDidIt jammed along to his earlier work.
The Claridge Stage bill started off on a high note with an afternoon performance by Tyler, the Creator of the California-based hip-hop collective Odd Future. With mates including Jasper Dolphin by side, the 23-year-old emcee and producer laid out an almost hour long set, delivering intensely from start to finish. Charismatic yet not blunt, Tyler paused between songs to share his two cents with the thousand or so teenage fans in attendance. It was his first time in Ottawa and, by his admission, he couldn’t believe it was.
In his 50-minute set, the rapper who’s no stranger to controversy, performed a bunch of tracks including Bastard, Sam (Is Dead), Yonkers, Bitch Suck Dick, Bimmer, IFYH, PartyIsntOver, ending things off with the popular single Tamale as the excited young crowd jumped in a frenzy.
The stage then kicked it back a few decades to give the young crowd a taste of the old-school — Cypress Hill. The South Gate, California bred hip-hop collective drew in over a thousand people drew in an older crowd looking to relive their younger days with the legendary Latino-American group. By the number of joints going around, it’s safe to say they did just that. Despite missing one member, DJ Muggs, emcees B-Real and Sen Dog led an entertaining and very interactive performance, letting the Ottawa crowd know how grateful they were to have them as fans. With Eric Bobo on percussions and DJ Julio G on the deck, They kicked off their hour long set with a new track titled “Get Em Up” and followed with all the hits that put them on the map, including “How I Could Just Kill a Man”, “Tequila Sunrise” and “Insane in the Brain”.
Hitting the Claridge Home stage Saturday afternoon Action Bronson began what would become one of the most interesting performances at Bluesfest. After performing “Silverado”, Action Bronson jumped down on the speaker and performed “Pepe Lopez”. The performance became even wilder when Bronson left the stage past the security barrier only to appear from behind stage in a golf cart. While never missing a beat, he continued to rap as the golf cart drove around the festival. As the crowd following the cart grew, Bronson left it and started walking with the crowd of fans.
The antics continued as Bronson took selfies with fans as he made his way through the crowd. They continued as he performed “It Concerns Me”, while disappearing into a port-a-potty. Once back on stage, Bronson gave the crowd favourites like “Through the Eyes of a G” and “Contemporary Man”. The performance ended suddenly after only about 40 minutes leaving the crowd wanting more of what was probably one of the wildest Bluesfest performances this year.
Check out the footage courtesy of Nosey.com
Child Gambino (aka Community star Donald Glover) hit the Claridge Homes stage in full force with before a crowd which grew in number from around 1,500 to 5,000 throughout the set. He performed tracks off acclaimed mixtapes I Am A Rapper and I Am A Rapper 2 and played “Bonfire” to close out his set.
Snoop Dogg finale’d the day after the sun set over the Bell stage, appearing in a haze of smoke and in an Ottawa Senators jersey before an anticipating crowd of thousands. His career spanning set highlighted the 42-year-old’s impeccable guest spot record and included his contributions to songs by Katy Perry (“California Girls”), Jason Derulo (“Wiggle”) and the Notorious B.I.G. as well as his own established hits “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, “Gin & Juice and Young”, “Wild & Free.”
Special thanks goes out to http://ottawabluesfest.ca/
Written by @ZackNoureddine & @MzSarahW
Photos by @ZackNoureddine @RealLilThrilla & @SuzyXO
Video provided by Patty Ville TV
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